An oil pipeline has leaked into the home waters of one of the most endangered populations of beluga whales.
Alaska’s Cook Inlet population, near Anchorage, is thought to number around 340 individuals. They were listed as endangered by the US federal government in 2008 and over 3,000 square miles of their home was protected as critical habitat in 2011. Once thought to number as many as 1300 whales, the population declined dramatically by nearly 50% in the mid-90s.
The pipeline is owned by the energy company, Hilcorp, which said the leak had been stopped by Monday and just a few gallons of oil had escaped. The incident comes just days after the same company had to shut down two oil platforms in the Inlet to reduce pressure on a gas pipeline which was discovered leaking in February and is awaiting repairs once weather conditions improve.